The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
No one told me before my wife and I had children how important singing would be. My children are now six, eight, and ten. But all three had problems sleeping early on. Each night, my wife and I took turns rocking our little ones, praying they’d nod off quickly. I spent hundreds of hours rocking them, desperately crooning lullabies to (hopefully!) speed up the process. But as I sang over our children night after night, something amazing happened: It deepened my bond of love and delight for them in ways I had never dreamed.
Did you know Scripture describes our heavenly Father singing over His children too? Just as I sought to soothe my children with song, so Zephaniah concludes with a portrait of our heavenly Father singing over His people: “He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing” (3:17).
Much of Zephaniah’s prophetic book warns of a coming time of judgment for those who’d rejected God. Yet that’s not where it ends. Zephaniah concludes not with judgment but with a description of God not only rescuing His people from all their suffering (vv. 19–20) but also tenderly loving and rejoicing over them with song (v. 17).
Our God is not only a “Mighty Warrior who saves” and restores (v. 17) but a loving Father who tenderly sings songs of love over us.
Father, help us to embrace Your tender love and “hear” the songs You sing.
Our heavenly Father delights in His children like a parent singing to a newborn baby.
The singing heart of God (Zephaniah 3:17) is but one of the many ways He expresses His love and care for us. Of course, we readily acknowledge that He rescues us and provides for us. We also know He made us and empowers us to live for Him in this world. But that is only the beginning. In Luke 15 we find that, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God rejoices over our rescue and return to Him. Additionally, He comforts us in our seasons of trial (2 Corinthians 1:3–8). Beyond that, He mourns with us in our pain—even to the point of valuing our tears (Psalm 56:8). In these and countless other ways, our God continually expresses the depth of His love and concern for His children.
How have you experienced that care in the different seasons of your own life?
Every believer must choose whether he will live by the principle of obedience or follow his preferences. When a person commits to doing the Lord’s will, then every situation and decision is sifted through the standard of “God said it, so I’m going to do it—and that’s the end of it.” He or she may complain, weep, or try to argue. But in the end, the individual will be obedient, no matter what.
I recall being invited years ago to interview with a church in Atlanta. During the entire trip, I told the Lord that I didn’t want to move. I fussed and carried on a good while, but I knew Atlanta would be my new home. I didn’t like the idea, but the alternative was unimaginable: There are few things more unpleasant than living with the nagging anxiety that you missed out on something good.
The Lord certainly understands our need to question, cry out, and petition Him for the strength to do what He commands. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that we have a high priest who can sympathize with us. Jesus wasn’t excited or happy about the cross. He grieved over the coming separation from His Father. Nevertheless, He was committed to following God’s will (Matt. 26:39). No one took Christ’s life from Him; He laid it down (John 10:18).
Our lives are about fulfilling the heavenly Father’s purpose. Many people miss out on its goodness because they choose to follow personal preferences instead, believing their own choices are better. Obedience is sometimes hard, but the struggle and sacrifice are worth it. The Lord’s ways and principles lead believers to joy and peace.
“So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.” (Genesis 11:8)
The verse above is a summary statement of God’s judgment at Babel, at which time God confused the languages of the people there and dispersed them throughout the earth. These original nations—all descended from Noah and his three sons—are listed in what is called the “Table of Nations” in Genesis 10. As time went on, the people proliferated into still more nations and languages and migrated still farther from Babel until finally, as the verse says, they were scattered “upon the face of all the earth.”
Christopher Columbus was a brave explorer and skilled navigator, as well as a diligent Bible student and convinced Christian. However, he did not “discover America,” as he is said to have done on October 12 in 1492. Neither did Leif Ericsson or any other adventurer whose name has been suggested for this honor.
The Indians discovered America! Archaeologists have found Indian artifacts at occupation sites dating well before the time of Christ at many places in America. And wherever these early tribes went, they carried with them the pantheistic religion taught to their ancestors at Babel by Nimrod there in that first great city after the Flood.
Many centuries later, however, there was another great scattering with a much different purpose and motivation. “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). This time, it was not a false religion that was being carried with them but the saving gospel of Christ who had commanded His followers, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), even “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). HMM
Paul loved the church in Corinth, but it caused him much pain and trouble through the evils which grew up in it, principally through the erroneous doctrines of Judaizing teachers, the fact that the church had more talent than grace, and that no pastor was raised up to conduct its affairs. We will now read a part of the first chapter of his first epistle.
1 Corinthians 1:1-17
1 Corinthians 1:4
It is always well to acknowledge and commend all the good which we see in our brethren, even though we may discern much to mourn over. They will all the more readily receive our reproofs, if we are just enough to admit and admire their excellencies.
1 Corinthians 1:5-11
If we bring a charge, we should be always willing to give our authority for it and mention the name of the accuser. Those who speak against others, and yet will not allow their names to appear, are unworthy of attention.
1 Corinthians 1:12
Many of the Gentiles stood up for their own apostle; the Judaizers, on the other hand, cried up Peter; a third class were charmed by the eloquence of Apollos, and a fourth party separated from the other three under the professed object of following only Christ. These last appear to have been quite as censurable as the others. Party making in the church of Christ is always evil.
1 Corinthians 1:13-15
There are some baptized people who make us feel glad that we had no hand in their baptism; as, for instance, those who rely upon the ordinance, those who live inconsistent lives, and those who sow strife among brethren.
1 Corinthians 1:16
This is a very singular passage. The apostle was inspired, and yet he made at first a statement which he afterwards corrected, and which he also modified with a hint that there might still be some others who had escaped his memory. This is intended by the Holy Spirit to teach us great carefulness in our statements, for even in small details we ought to speak the truth with the utmost accuracy.
1 Corinthians 1:17
Fine preaching feeds man’s pride, plain preaching brings glory to God and benefit to men.
Let all the saints terrestrial sing,
With those to glory gone;
For all the servants of our King,
In earth and heaven are one.
One family we dwell in him,
One church above, beneath,
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.
Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore. (Psalm 105:4)
Wherever faith has proved itself to be real, it has inevitably had upon it a sense of the “present” God. The holy Scriptures possess in marked degree this feeling of actual encounter with a real Person.
The men and women of the Bible talked with God. They spoke to Him and heard Him speak in words they could understand. With Him they held person-to-person converse, and a sense of shining reality is upon their words and deeds.
This sense of “Someone there” filled the members of the early Christian church with abiding wonder. The solemn delight which those early disciples knew sprang straight from the conviction that there was One in the midst of them—they were in the very Presence of God!
This sense of “Someone” there makes religion invulnerable to critical attack. It secures the mind against collapse under the battering of the enemy. Those who worship the God who is present may ignore the objection of unbelieving men!
“Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken.” Isa. 62:4
“Forsaken” is a dreary word. It sounds like a knell. It is the record of sharpest sorrows, and the prophecy of direst ills. An abyss of misery yawns in that word “Forsaken.” Forsaken by one who pledged his honor! Forsaken by a friend so long tried and trusted! Forsaken by a dear relative! Forsaken by father and mother! Forsaken by all! This is woe indeed, and yet it may be patiently borne if the Lord will take us up.
But what must it be to feel forsaken of God? Think of that bitterest of cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Have we ever in any degree tasted the wormwood and the gall of “Forsaken,” in that sense? If so, let us beseech our Lord to save us from any repetition of so unspeakable a sorrow. Oh, that such darkness may never return! Men in malice said of a saint, “God hath forsaken him; persecute and take him.” But it was always false. The Lord’s loving favor shall compel our cruel foes to eat their own words, or, at least, to hold their tongues.
The reverse of all this is that superlative word, Hephzibah — “the Lord delighteth in thee.” This turns weeping into dancing. Let those who dreamed that they were forsaken hear the Lord say, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”